Domestic violence leave
What is domestic violence leave?
If you are experiencing domestic violence and abuse, you may need to take time off work for urgent and essential matters relating to your situation.
This could be for medical visits, legal proceedings, counselling, looking for alternative accommodation or accessing domestic violence services. It might not be possible to do these things outside your work hours or you may need to keep them hidden from your abuser.
From 27 November 2023, you have a legal right to 5 days of paid domestic violence leave if you need to take time off work because of the abuse.
You do not need to be working in your job for a certain amount of time to qualify.
You do not have to give your employer notice to take the leave in emergency circumstances. However, you should give notice if you are able to.
The domestic violence can be ongoing or have occurred in the past.
The entitlement to domestic violence leave comes from the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023.
If you are supporting someone
You can also take this leave if you are supporting a ‘relevant person’ such as a partner.
If you are worried about someone you know, you can call the Women’s Aid 24 hour National Freephone Helpline on 1800 341 900.
The Woman’s Aid website has simple steps to provide emotional and practical support.
Types of abuse
Domestic violence and abuse includes violence, or threat of violence, including emotional, physical, sexual, digital, and economic abuse and coercive control. Abuse can happen to anyone at any age and in any type of relationship. You can read more about domestic violence and abuse, court protections, and organisations and services that can help you.
Who can apply?
All employees who have experienced or are currently experiencing abuse are entitled to domestic violence leave.
You are eligible if the person perpetrating the domestic violence and abuse is your:
- Spouse or civil partner
- Current or former intimate partner (current boyfriend or girlfriend or ex)
- Child who is over 18 and not financially dependent on you
You are also eligible for domestic violence leave if you are supporting a 'relevant person'. A ‘relevant person’ is someone who has experienced or is experiencing domestic violence or abuse and that person is your:
- Spouse or civil partner
- Intimate partner
- Child who is under 18
- Another dependent person
You do not need to be working in your job for a certain amount of time to qualify for the leave.
How to use the domestic violence leave
The leave can be taken to allow you, or the person you are supporting, to do any of the following:
- Get medical help
- Access services from a victim services organisation
- Access counselling
- Relocate temporarily or permanently
- Get a safety order from the courts
- Get help or advice from a legal practitioner like a solicitor
- Get help from the Garda Síochána
- Access any other relevant services
How much domestic violence leave is available?
You have a right to 5 days of domestic violence leave in any consecutive 12 months. This is the statutory entitlement (that means the legal minimum). Your employer can give you more than the statutory entitlement and they may give you additional paid or unpaid special leave if needed.
If you work part-time, you are entitled to domestic violence leave on a pro-rata basis. This means, for example, if you work 50% of a normal working week, you are entitled to 2.5 days’ leave.
The leave does not need to be taken all at once. It can be taken as single or multiple days. An absence for part of a day is counted as one day.
Will my pay be affected?
Domestic violence leave is paid by your employer at your full rate of pay.
You must be paid at your normal daily rate of pay. Your employer should not make any reference to domestic violence leave on your payslip.
What is normal daily pay?
Your normal daily pay includes any regular bonus or allowance which does not change from week to week (but excludes overtime or commission).
If your pay changes from week to week, your pay for domestic violence leave is the average of your pay over the 13 weeks before you are on leave. This could be, for example, because of regular bonus payments or allowances.
How to apply
Check if your employer has a workplace domestic violence policy and follow the process to apply for the leave and other supports available.
Do I need to give notice to my employer?
You do not have to give your employer notice to take domestic violence leave in emergency circumstances.
You should give notice if you are able to, or as soon as you practically can after taking it.
Disclosing your experience to your employer
Getting support from your employer means you need to disclose your experience to someone at work. In most jobs, employees usually tell their direct manager about absences.
Or, your employer may assign a specific or designated person to handle matters related to domestic violence leave and other available support. The designated person could be a HR manager or the business owner.
Your employer should make sure the designated person is well-trained to handle employee disclosures properly.
Can my employer ask for proof?
You are not required to give your employer any supporting information or evidence when requesting domestic violence leave.
There might be exceptional situations where your employer could ask for supporting documents, but this would be rare and is not in line with the intentions of the law.
Your employer should treat any information you disclose about domestic violence with the utmost sensitivity and confidentiality.
They should only share the information with those who need it for safety plans or administering domestic violence leave. Ideally, your employer should get your written permission before sharing any information.
Sharing information does not always mean breaking confidentiality. Your employer can find ways to share details without revealing your identity or the fact that you disclosed domestic violence.
Your employment rights
In general, you will be treated as if you are in work during domestic violence leave.
- Your time on domestic violence leave does not break your continuous service. It also counts as service when calculating entitlements such as annual leave and public holidays.
- You must not be dismissed for taking or asking to take domestic violence leave.
- You must not be victimised for taking or asking to take domestic violence leave. Your employer cannot penalise or treat you unfairly by, for example, giving you worse conditions of employment or selecting you for redundancy.
Enforcing your rights
If you have a complaint or dispute with your employer over domestic violence leave, you should raise it with your employer first.
If you cannot resolve the issue directly with your employer, you can make a formal complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
Other supports at work
After you tell your employer about the situation, your employer may discuss other ways to ensure your safety at work.
Possible ways to keep you safe include changes to work duties, location, contact details and other enhanced security measures. Any workplace safety plan is confidential and shared on a need-to know basis.
If there is a serious threat to your life or health, your employer may take action to refer you to a specialist organisation such as Safe Ireland. Your employer should talk to you first before deciding whether a situation is a serious threat.
You or your employer can refer to the DV at Work detailed guidance note for different support options available. It covers:
- Travelling to and from work
- Safety on and off site
- Working from home
- Workplace communication
- Flexible working arrangements
- Financial needs
- Performance and behaviour
- Employee absence
- Perpetrator presence or contact
- Specialist support
- Sharing information
Gardaí are specially trained to deal with these situations and can help you get support.
You can get more information on the support organisations and services if you are a victim of abuse, or are helping someone who is a victim of domestic abuse.
The DV at Work website has guidance on workplace supports and a policy template for employers.